TWENTY-EIGHT

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A/N: Credits to the lyrics in the first part of the following chapter: Jessie Ware - "Say You Love Me"

"Lizzie?"

Say you love me, to my face

I need it more, than your embrace

I curled tighter in on myself and pulled my extra pillow over my face.

Just say you want me, that's all it takes

Heart's getting torn, from your mistakes

"Do you have this song on repeat or what?"

'Cause I don't wanna fall in love

If you don't wanna try

I groaned. Why couldn't Maria just leave me alone?

I felt the bed dip as she sat down by my folded knees. I was in the fetal position, squeezing my eyes tightly shut against reality.

Baby, it looks as though we're running out of words to say

And love's floating

"I brought you some groceries," Maria said gently and I felt her hand stroke through my unwashed hair. "Your dad is starting to look like a skeleton, and I'm kinda afraid of what you look like under all those sheets."

"Go away," I mumbled, pulling the duvet closer around me.

Want to feel burning flames when you say my name

Want to feel passion flow into my bones

Like blood through my veins

"How long has it been since you've eaten, anyway?" she asked, the worry clear enough to cut through steel. "Do you even leave bed?"

"Go away," I repeated, the lack of energy that comes with not eating making my voice weak.

Won't you stay?

Slowly, slowly, you run for me

But do you know me at all?

"What happened?" Maria continued, obviously ignoring my faint pleas. "I thought you were doing well. Remarkably well, even. I wouldn't have been that strong. And then..." she paused, the chorus of the song taking over.

'Cause I don't want to fall in love

If you don't wanna try

But I'll that I've been thinking of

Is maybe that you might

"Oh, for God's sake," Maria grumbled and Jessie Ware's voice was abruptly interrupted.

"Hey," I mumbled in weak protest, my eyes shooting open, but hastily closing them again against the bright afternoon sun. "I was listening to that!"

Next, the comforter was ripped off my body and I shivered at the sudden lack of protective warmth.

"Lizzie," Maria voiced sadly and I squeezed my eyes shut again as I felt her eyes on my body. "Let me help you in the shower. You need a shower."

"I don't want a shower," I mumbled, annoyed.

"That might be so, but 'want' and 'need' are two completely different things."

"Why do you care?" I asked tiredly.

"Because - even if you're like the most difficult friend ever - I love you," Maria replied simply.

My heart was currently numb to any confessions of that kind and I covered my face with my hands. "Please, just leave me alone."

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